Mayer's LeRoy Giff sought a larger market for his handtooled leather goods. He found it in Prescott Valley at Cherry Creek Traders, an offshoot of the brand new Red House Marketplace indoor swap meet.
Driving through Prescott Valley on Highway 69, a large cherry red building catches the eye. Although it's gone through several incarnations with leasers over the years, the 12,500-square-foot building sat vacant until its owners got an idea to use it themselves.
The last weekend in June, Sylvan Incao and Ricky Henderson opened phase one of their indoor market, the Red House Marketplace.
Some 40 vendors already rent booth space in the front half of the cavernous building, and in August, Incao and Henderson plan to open phase two, with room for another 50 vendors, including a Farmer's Market with fresh organic produce.
The current vendors come from all around the state, from Surprise to Paulden. What they have in common is quality merchandise and services. This isn't an oversized garage sale with stuff piled on tables. The cubicles are well-organized, neat and clean with attractive displays.
The merchandise is widely varied. Cothing items range from jeweled tops for juniors at Cutie Boutique to tutus for "princesses" at Gwenythe's Heavenly Designs. Shoppers can find hats and handbags, shoes and sunglasses.
Metal patio furniture, rock yard designs, baskets, backpacks and baubles, collectibles and antiques, pots and paintings, electronic gadgets, designer towels and rugs, dog paraphernalia and more - even psychic readings - each have a place.
And shoppers have a place to sit and enjoy a bite to eat, from Giovanni's Pizzeria or the Red House (Wi-Fi) Café stands, while listening to music.
Some of the merchants have experience exhibiting at swap meets, but for many, it's a first-time adventure - and one they like. Their nearly universal comment was: "The marketplace is so clean and cool, and out of the sun, wind and dust."
They also were united in their attitude toward its owners.
"They are easy to work with, and they listen to our suggestions."
Henderson and Incao explained the process.
"We took a weekend model market and put it inside for small businesses," Incao said, adding with a smile, "It was a creative idea to make use of space and pay the mortage that evolved into something very alive."
They rent booth space by the month for as low as $165, which averages less than $15 per day.
Henderson, an Australian who's been in the Prescott Valley area for five years, said he "grew up in the business."
"When I was six years old I would get up at two a.m. with my mother to set up at a market. She still does it," he said. "We've set up an environment here where people can stay. It's reasonable and low risk."
Incao, from upstate New York, has lived here for 15 years and been involved in other business ventures.
They look like brothers, but aren't. Both are members of the Denise Allen Band, however.
"We're 'people people'," Henderson said. "We're trying to create an atmosphere here, with food and music. Opening the market was a good option and a good fit for the economy."
"It's basically re-enlivened this side of the highway and brings business to our neighbors," Incao said.
They praised Town of Prescott Valley officials for their cooperation.
"The Town has been really great," Henderson said.
The journey through the marketplace can be educational. Shelagh Lund, who moved from Maui to Prescott for her health, designs fine one-of-kind sculptured jewelry from pearls. She's more than happy to explain how oyster farmers get their mollusks to develop pearls of different colors. Briefly, it's all in the minerals to which they're exposed.
Lund, along with nearly other vendor, had nothing but good things to say about the efforts and personalities of Incao and Henderson. "They have an entrepreneurial spirit," Lund noted.
The Red House Marketplace, at 6689 E. 1st St., is open Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cherry Creek Traders, with five vendors, including "The Leather Man" Giff, is another facet of the market but with extended hours.
In addition to marketplace hours, they're open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dewey resident Jim Dale handcrafts canes and walking sticks from aspen in Colorado. He also carries a variety of western paraphernalia and food, including 10-pound burlap bags of Anasazi beans. He relocated his shop from the now-defunct Young's Farm.
Bill and Kitty Gunn, of Paulden, run W.C. Gunn Original Artworks. Bill creates paintings, sandstone and copper art for the home as well as airbrushing, lettering and pinstriping for vehicles and more.
Also from Paulden, Anne Ochoa runs Itsy Bitsy Place, where she frames artwork, and carries Western and Native American items. She relocated from her shop in Chino Valley, hoping to take advantage of Hwy. 69 traffic, including people from the stifling Valley heading for Prescott's cool pines.
The door between the Red House and the traders opens on the weekends, including Cherry Creek in the marketplace.